El Vaquero has a crazy aunt.and her name is Idol Magazine.
Produced by long-term El Vaquero staff member Graig Agop, his brother Hovsep and former and current newspaper staff members, Idol Magazine launched its first issue titled, “The Evolution of Megan Walker,” last summer.
Further down the family tree, Idol is the baby of “Black Magic,” a screenplay co-written by the two brothers.
The synopsis of the script features budding entertainment columnist Colin Laferty, a compulsive liar with Turret’s syndrome, as he begins his internship at Idol Magazine, despotically controlled by the editor-in-chief and queen bee, Megan Walker.
As the story transitions from a highly competitive and sleazy newsroom to a journalism convention called “Glare” in Las Vegas Walker introduces the publication as Laferty suffers a complete and utter breakdown.
Colin and other characters are loosely based on Graig’s life experiences as a member of the El Vaquero staff.
“I came in as a photographer,” said Graig. “When [faculty adviser] Michael Moreau and [editor] Jane Pojawa sent me out with a rifle, which is a metaphor for a pen and pad, I came back with the heads of all three Jonas brothers.
“The writing was questionable, definitely offensive and sometimes illegible. I went from writing columns, leaving for a year and coming back with a script.”
Prior to writing the screenplay, Graig compiled diary entries, also known as “hilarious journals of misconception.” He then enrolled in Speech101 and was asked to join the speech team shortly after, thus sparking the inspiration.
Initially, Hovsep didn’t plan on pursuing a career in the entertainment industry. When he was recommended by a psychology professor to work on a feature film, Hovsep was instantly hooked and absorbed everything he learned. He has produced a few short movies since.
Evidently, Graig and Hovsep are complete opposites.
“I put out an idea and he screams at me. I’m on time-out more than I’m on time-in,” said Graig.
From completion of the screenplay to attending film festivals, the creation of Idol Magazine seemed like a natural progression. Graig enrolled in a magazine writing class last spring and being on the staff of the Insider, Glendale’s student magazine, inspired the brothers to take the next step.
Magcloud, an online service offered by Hewlett-Packard to create short-run magazines, was used by the Insider for its print run. Idol followed suit.
“It was our first time organizing a production like this and the project was an investment as we [wanted] to make a cohesive whole. We went through a lot of different ideas and the ones that fit, transferred into the magazine,” said Hovsep.
Drafting 22 ex-El Vaquero journalists, the team was able to successfully produce a spoof entertainment magazine over the summer, even with a two-month deadline.
“[Although] the magazine might be a joke, the professional work ethic is not,” said Hovsep.
Interactive staff meetings were held once a week and each one had a theme or an exciting event attached to it.
The meetings mixed work and play into one large, enjoyable cocktail. Ironically, in honor of Lindsay Lohan’s inability to drink, the brothers served non-alcoholic drinks to the staff members. They even dished up ice cream and homemade paper bag lunches.
“Personally, I loved the Idol staff meetings, said staff writer Isiah Reyes. “There was always some sort of workshop, like painting inappropriate political images (which was published as an autistic art show). I think Graig and Hovsep did a great job at putting together the first issue and I was really glad I could be a part of something special.”
The atmosphere offered a liberating and creative space for students to express strongly comedic commentary. Clearly, rules are non-existent except one;:”On Fridays, we wear pink,” said Graig.
Though there was no negative conduct among the staff, a wall of disliked celebrities was used for inspiration.
In this environment, the brothers attempted to bring “Black Magic” to life as much as possible through the magazine, with the staff as characters with aliases. The vision became a reality.
Now, former staff members are calling to write for the second issue.
“When others support your work, you tend to do more and better,” added Graig.
In particular, Jane Pojawa, editor in chief of El Vaquero, was entirely and sincerely supportive throughout the whole process with no exceptions.
“She really has been our Black Magic and everyone’s fairy godmother. To her, I will leave my Ke$ha fanny pack,” said Graig.
Originally, celebrities like performer Miley Cyrus was the base of the content for the magazine but when the brothers decided to throw that idea out, they incorporated “the best of both worlds” of media.
The initial goal was to produce three magazines yet with a time constraint, it didn’t seem reasonable for distribution. However, the content held its own and Idol Magazine served more than a petite appetizer.
In Idol’s letter from the editor column, Walker stated, “The entire Idol staff took an oath to deliver our readers horribly shameless, immorally delicious, attention-grabbing, suicide-increasing, career halting stories, and we spell checked that sh*t.”
Walker was the voice of Idol, although, her tone might remind one of a wicked witch.
In fact, Broadway musical star “Wicked” Megan Hilty (Glinda) was the face of Walker on the cover of the magazine. After it was published, the brothers sent a copy to her. She was amused and even signed it.
“Walker makes Meryl Streep in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ look like a good will ambassador,” said Graig.
As long as it was justified, staff writers were encouraged to write with bad behavior to follow her lead.
The magazine itself was a mockery of pop culture, adding an original twist to generic stereotypes, highlighting hip-hop artists like “Lil Junk.” The content was edgy, out of the box and visually representative, photo courtesy of Graig. The subject matter is not to be taken seriously and there is a disclaimer to prevent from offending its readers.
Idol showcases pseudo stories such as Ernesto Ramirez’s “How to Survive a Mexican Party,” “Mock Fur Is No Joke,” and “Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: An Exclusive Interview with Miss Daisy Morrison, a star of the hit TV show “Sex and the Prairie.”
“I created Daisy Morrison because I wanted to mock the way celebrities are idolized in our culture, said staff writer Jessica Bourse. “Her show, ‘Sex and the Prairie,’ as well as her horse mask, came directly from Sarah Jessica Parker. However, as I continued to create her, she became a monster of a celebrity– Angelina Jolie, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson. What’s so strange about a woman wearing a horse mask when Lady Gaga wears a dress made out of meat?”
In addition, the magazine features a photo spread titled “Rock Hard: Pleather or Leather? Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” shot by student photographers Graig and Louis Roche.
All dressed in black, student models posed on hilltops in the blazing sun to capture the perfect picture.
“It was fun but I had to wear women’s boots in a size 8. And I wear a size 13 in women’s so I had to scrunch my feet into them,” said student model Jack Najarian.
Also, the magazine contains a Rachael Ray-like recipe for a three-layer avocado chocolate chip cream cheese cake. It was strangely good according to Hovsep and it’s likely “Iron Chef” would agree.
“Even if we’re not onto something, we’re on the right track,” said Graig. “We knew what we wanted.”
And that was just the icing on the cake.
For the second issue, Graig and Hovsep plan to creatively play around with different forms of media, morphing Idol to fit into diverse fields.
“If you’re talented you’ll take a piece of nothing a turn it into something,” said Graig.
During the summer, the brothers aspire to produce light webisodes about “Black Magic” as well as a broadcast for the magazine. The program will be similar to TMZ and “The Onion,” but with more layers.
Idol Magazine is the aunt everyone wishes they had. Graig, Hovsep and the staff writers have taken something completely distasteful and have used honesty and humor to make it inappropriately acceptable.
Now, who’s the crazy one?
For more information about Idol Magazine, check out www.idolmagazineonline.com and “Black Magic,” check out www.blackmagic.com. To order issue number one refer to: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/Magazine/105108.